Tamarind is a way of life in every Mexican child’s life. Its tart flavor is one of the first we experience as children, because it flavors so many candies. It’s usually layered with a spicy chile powder and probably explains why we can handle our spicy food. There are tamarind-chile paletas, tamarind-chile raspados (shaved ice), and sweetened tamarind balls coated in chile powder. Agua de tamarindo is another popular way we consume this fruit. It’s what we crave on a hot summer day in Oaxaca, no matter how old we are. I often judge a Mexican restaurant by its agua de tamarindo. It’s a great way to gauge how serious they take those small details we often take for granted as restaurateurs. Don’t ever trust a place that uses syrups or doesn’t go above and beyond to make their agua de tamarindo from scratch. You can find quality tamarind pods or pulp at many Latino, Asian, or Indian markets.
In a 2-quart (2-L) saucepan over medium heat, combine
Once cool enough to put your hands in the water, break up any clumps in the pulp. Pass this tamarind concentrate through a double-mesh strainer into a pitcher. Add the filtered water and the white sugar. Stir well and serve over ice.
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